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On Seeing the France 2 Rushes

On Seeing the France2 Rushes from September 30, 2000
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I had the rare privilege to visit Charles Enderlin at France2 studios in Jerusalem in October 2003, and view about 20 minutes of tape from Talal abu Rachmeh’s work of the same days as the tapes made available on these pages. Although I had already become acquainted with a tendency to stage scenes of fighting and ambulance evacuation, I was in for quite a surprise. Talal’s work was considerably more obvious in its filming of fakes, many of them quite badly staged for the cameras. In fact, if the cameraman who filmed the footage you see at this site was, to some extent a photographer of Pallywood, standing back often and filming both the scene and the set, Talal was a Pallywood photographer, filming up close only the key “sight bytes” (as in the Molotov Cocktail scene).

At one point, some youth are evacuating a “wounded” comrade, when one of them sees another ambulance with more cameramen. He put the wounded boy in a headlock and yanked him over to the other ambulance, dragging the other “evacuators” with him. The experience of watching Talal’s work was literally surreal, Alice in Wonderland. I was astonished. It gave me information vertigo. What was going on?

At another point, a boy faked a leg injury, but instead of drawing big kids who could pick him up and rush him past the cameramen to an ambulance, he only attracted little kids. He shooed them away, looked around, and, seeing that no one was coming to evacuate him, straightened up and walked away without a limp. An Israeli cameraman working for France2 who was watching the film with me and Enderlin at the time, laughed at this point. When I asked him why, he said, “because it looks so fake.” “That’s my impression as well,” I responded. Enderlin responded, “Oh, they do that all the time. It’s their cultural style. They exaggerate.”

When I walked out of the office, I was in shock. They do this all the time!?! It’s their cultural style? Enderlin’s condescending “orientalism” really disguised an information catastrophe. The joke was on us all – the responsible media, the trusting public, the “scoop”-hungry journalists who rummaged through these cheap scenes, looking for something they could use in the evening’s broadcast. That’s when the term Pallywood first occurred to me.

Other journalists who saw Abu Rachmeh’s rushes in Paris at France2 in the Fall of 2004 had the same impression and got the same answer from France2 executives. In a radio interview, translated here, Daniel Leconte recalls:

… the staging which obviously they were obliged to acknowledge as we sat around the table with the representatives of France 2, that is was staged - which is pretty outrageous (quand même extravagant) - and when we said to them, "You can see it's staged," one of them said, smiling, "Yes, but you know well that it's always like that." [To which Leconte responded:] "You may know that, but your viewers still don't know."

At least Leconte and Jeambar still adhere to principles of modern journalism. The PA has no scruples about doctoring film with shots from other days in order to “tell a higher truth.” Charles Enderlin responded to the scandal caused by these revelations with a defense that suggests he has “gone native.” He used Talal’s footage to run his story “because it corresponded with the situation on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” Leconte commented to one journalist:

"I find this, from a journalistic point of view, hallucinating," said Leconte, himself a former journalist. "That a journalist like him (Enderlin) can be driven to say such things is very revealing of the state of the press in France today," he added.

Newsmen in the American MSM whom I approached with this material were not quite as outrageous as Enderlin, but then they were not quite so courageous as Leconte and Jeambar, either. As one journalist at a major network put it, “I’m convinced by your argument about Pallywood, but I don’t know how much appetite there is for this kind of thing here.” Or as another put it, making allusions to the omnipresent commitment to "even-handedness" – “if we did something on this, we could not do it on this alone.” It is partly out of the refusal of the MSM to police itself (even rival networks!), and partly out of the brazen refusal of France2 and Charles Enderlin to release their incriminating tapes, that we have launched this website.


The Appeals court in Paris demanded that France2 show them the footage I saw before passing judgment on the suit France2 brought against Philippe Karsenty.  Some predicted that Enderlin and France2 would cut the footage, which indeed they did, presenting only 17 of 21-27 minutes of original most conspicuously eliminating the incident of the man who stopped limping described above.  Nonetheless, we now have those 17 minutes, and I think a close look at the "action footage" reveals the degree to which staging is part of the street "scene."  Certainly the court felt Karsenty was more than justified in criticizing Enderlin for showing staged footage in the most severe terms.








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